Memorial of the Immaculate Heart of the Virgin Mary | June 20, 2020

Today is the memorial of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, which always follows the day after the Solemnity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus on the liturgical calendar. The heart of Mary and the heart of her Son are united in their love for one another and for the world.

These two feasts are related spring celebrations of the overflowing love of God, manifested in the Son, Jesus Christ, and through the very human love of his Blessed Mother.

This devotion to Mary and to Jesus was highlighted in the 19th century by St. Catherine Laboure, following an inspiration from Mary to create the “Miraculous Medal of Our Lady of Graces,” known more frequently just as the “Miraculous Medal,” and worn by Catholics all over the world.

I especially think of my late grandmother who always wore the Miraculous Medal. My own mother, who passed away last year, had many devotions as well, and one was to Mary through the Miraculous Medal.

I can understand why their own hearts felt so close to Mary’s heart, and why many Catholics relate to this particular devotion. Mary experienced many things as mother of Jesus – joys and happiness, pain and sorrow. The love of a mother towards her children often makes them take on the  joys or sorrows that their children experience. And all of us have at one time or another experienced joy or suffering with another, where we have felt deeply connected with them.

In the Gospel of the finding of Jesus in the Temple by his parents after three days, when he was missing, the concern of a mother comes through in Mary’s question, “Son, why have you done this to us?” Although she didn’t understand Jesus’ response about being about God’s work in his Father’s house at the time, the Gospel said she “kept these things in her heart.” Sometimes we have to reflect on an experience to truly understand its meaning for our lives!

We hear in the first reading from Isaiah, and in the psalm for today’s memorial, the story of two different people who experience the loving work of God for justice, and setting things right in the world. Both of those readings reflect on how God is close to the hurting and the poor, and that God acts on their behalf.

From what we know of her from the Scriptures, we see that Mary was someone who believed this thorougly. This memorial and the Miraculous Medal remind us that that vision of God and God’s Reign – proclaimed and brought to fulfillment by her Son – is part of the love of her heart as well.

And, as I think again of my grandmother and mother –these women were also connected to that compassionate heart of Mary in the many ways they cared for the needs of family, friends, and their community, in a generous spirit of compassion.

As we celebrate this memorial and remember the love of Mary, and the love of Jesus, perhaps we can ponder in our own hearts how our love is tied to our concern and care for others. And let’s pray together that our hearts will always be open to such compassionate care for those in need.

And, finally, let’s also pray for those in our lives – who we know or who we meet – who most need the love of Jesus and his Mother in their lives – so that they can discover anew that love and compassion for others.

God give you peace!

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As Director of Certification for Ecclesial Ministry and Service at the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), I have the opportunity to record video reflections on the readings of the Scriptures proclaimed at daily Mass. I do so as part of larger group of colleagues at the Conference, along with lay and ordained leaders from around the country. I am grateful for the opportunity to reflect on the meaning of the readings for the life of faith today and to share them here, along with the written text of the reflections. To view these video reflections for past and upcoming celebrations of the Eucharist, visit the USCCB website.